The full significance of this cannot be overstated. If a million Syrians pushed Europe to the brink of fascism, what might ten or a hundred times that number do? The horrible irony is that the far right coming to the power makes it less likely that steps will be taken to control the climatological processes driving mass migration. But estimates of 200 million or even a billion climate refugees suggest a world radically different from the one we known, raising the distributing question of how fascism might seek to reinforce ‘borders’ that otherwise cease to function through militarised means. From pg 6-7 of The Unhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells:
Beginning in 2011, about one million Syrian refugees were unleashed on Europe by a civil war inflamed by climate change and drought—and in a very real sense, much of the “populist moment” the entire West is passing through now is the result of panic produced by the shock of those migrants. The likely flooding of Bangladesh threatens to create ten times as many, or more, received by a world that will be even further destabilized by climate chaos—and, one suspects, less receptive the browner those in need. And then there will be the refugees from sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and the rest of South Asia—140 million by 2050, the World Bank estimates, meaning more than a hundred times Europe’s Syrian “crisis.” The U.N. projections are bleaker: 200 million climate refugees by 2050.23 Two hundred million was the entire world population at the peak of the Roman Empire, if you can imagine every single person alive and living anywhere on the planet at that time dispossessed of their home and turned outward to wander through hostile territories in search of a new one. The high end of what’s possible in the next thirty years, the United Nations says, is considerably worse: “a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.” A billion or more.